The return of star player Rowan Roache is a “huge bonus” for Blackpool ahead of next week’s FA Youth Cup decider against Arsenal, according to coach John Murphy.
Roache was absent for Pool’s 2-2 draw against the Gunners in the first leg of their semi-final clash at Bloomfield Road last month.
The 18-year-old has since returned from international duty, having played twice for the Republic of Ireland Under-19s, and should go straight back into the youth team’s starting line-up for Monday’s rematch at the Emirates.
Academy coach Murphy said: “I go back to last year when the lads won the league and Rowan scored 30 and got 20 assists.
“You take anyone of that calibre out of the team and it’s going to have an impact on you, but I thought we coped fantastically well without him.
“Considering how well we played without him, if we go in with the same attitude and the same work rate with him in the team, that should stand us in good stead because he adds quality and composure.
“We missed him for a 30-minute spell because we were chasing the ball back a little bit.
“When we won it back we needed someone to put their foot on the ball and slow things down to get us back into the game.
“We just panicked a little bit before we realised we could actually play, so to have Rowan back is a huge bonus.”
Murphy will lead out his charges at the Emirates for what will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of them.
Blackpool are just 90 minutes away from creating history by becoming the first third-tier side to make the FA Youth Cup final in 30 years.
But Murphy revealed the excitement has had to be put to one side to allow them to concentrate on league fixtures.
He added: “The excitement and the fever will come to a crescendo but we haven’t really spoke about it much because of the time frame.
“We had a decent result in the league on Saturday in what was a difficult game. The pitch didn’t allow us to play how we wanted, so we had to dig in. But we got a 2-0 win and a clean sheet, so confidence is there. Hopefully we can carry that on.
“The lads have college, which is an unwelcome distraction for them, because they don’t like it. But we will train Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the big one on Monday.”